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Private Label 

On their three CDs thus far, Norwich-based trio Alden Patterson & Dashwood have provided some of the most enduring of my recent musical discoveries. Towards the end of 2018, two of the trio’s members, Christina Alden and Alex Patterson, undertook a 23-date tour with Show Of Hands, and all the positive energy that tour had generated was then channelled into creating and recording a proper duo album, making full use of the enforced concentration of life in pandemic.

The intimate feel of their music-making is mirrored in Christina’s trademark homespun design and presentation, her beautiful artwork, while the lovingly phrased (and sparingly multitracked) instrumentation (guitars, banjo, violin/viola/cello and shruti, with guest Calum McKemmie on double bass) just strengthens that intimacy. The album’s 10 tracks comprise eight songs and two delightful instrumentals. All but one song (the traditional My Flower, My Companion And Me) are originals, the majority focussing on the often delicate relationship between humankind and the natural world, expressed in simple and memorable language. The stories they tell invariably take an unusual slant on their scenario, whether narrating an unlikely creature-friendship (Hunter), taking on the perspective of a long-living vertebrate (The Greenland Shark), or chronicling the tracking by researchers of an epic journey made by a lone Arctic Fox (The Fox Song). The message that we should work closely with the land in order to safeguard its wealth, not to underestimate or abuse its resource, is powerfully conveyed on Land Corridors and Reed Cutting. These songs, with their tellingly supportive musical settings, make a strong impression, one that’s destined to outlast the album’s time in the player. This hunter is also a keeper – literally.

David Kidman


This review appeared in Issue 140 of The Living Tradition magazine